It seems that if enough people complain, even a mighty hotel chain that has a history of showing disdain toward elite members will back down. In the case of the new St. Regis in Chicago, top-tier elites will now receive free breakfast after the hotel initially denied this benefit on rather absurd grounds.
St. Regis Chicago Will Offer Breakfast Benefit After All – An Important Lesson
I don’t actually have a dog in this fight since I’m not a Marriott guy and have no plans to ever stay at the St. Regis Hotel in Chicago (though I did love the St. Regis in Amman, Jordan). That said, this issue matters because if Marriott hotels can get away with it, that means Hyatt hotels might be emboldened to try similar tactics (my loyalty is to Hyatt).
The St. Regis Chicago opened last week and flummoxed Marriott elites by denying complimentary breakfast as an elite benefit. Platinum, Titanium, and Ambassador are entitled, per Marriott Bonvoy terms and conditions, to a choice of breakfast as their welcome amenity.
But at the St. Regis Chicago, elites were told that free breakfast would not be offered because the restaurant was managed by a third party. That’s a fallacious excuse that does not stop other St. Regis hotels with similar restaurant arrangements from offering breakfast and is not a valid reason to deny this benefit per Bonvoy program rules.
Many blogged about it. Many wrote Marriott. Others took to social media. Anthony from The Bulkhead Seat blog on Boarding Area was actually a hotel guest who was denied breakfast. On Sunday, he reported that the hotel backtracked and will offer free breakfast to top-tier elites after all. Nice work, Anthony (and Ben and Gary). Nice work Flyertalk.
You have to wonder what went through the minds of the dullards who run that property to withhold this benefit in the first place, but I am glad to see they caved in.
And it does show the power of bloggers to influence policy to the benefit of all elite guests. Hotels will be shamed when they failed to honor elite benefits and this is not a self-centered expression of entitlement, but the two-way street that is at the core of loyalty.
One last note. Ben mocked some of his readers for arguing that guests who could afford an $800/night hotel room can also afford to pay for breakfast. I must do so as well. What a stupid lack of logic. So let me get this straight…guests should also bring their own toilet paper, towels, pillows, coffee, and soap because they can afford it, right?
No. Breakfast is an important benefit that recognizes all the nights it takes to be an elite member of Marriott Bonvoy. It is not a benefit to be disregarded for spurious reasons, as if we are all stupid. This hotel should be ashamed of itself for nickel and diming in the first place.
Let the case study of the St. Regis Chicago be a warning to would-be hotel owners who want to reap the benefits of a well-known brand but fail to abide by the obligations that come with that partnership. Any hotel that might be tempted to follow suit should be on notice that it will be similarly held accountable.
I’m still dumbfounded why so many of the major hotel operations – particularly Hilton – keep trying to roll back or take away this perk, and specifically only in the US. I’m usually in Hilton properties, and in the EU they still include breakfast (even at Hampton Inns, and their breakfasts make some of the ones a traditional Hilton offers in the US look pathetic).
They do it for the owners, not the customers. It is more likely to attract a franchisee to the brand if they know they only have to pay out a $10-$20 allowance for breakfast, as opposed to comping the whole thing.
Well written. It’s funny. I have a tendency to spend not a lot on my first visit to a property, and a whole lot when I return. I’m glad CHIXR came around.
“guests should also bring their own toilet paper, towels, pillows, coffee, and soap because they can afford it, right?”. A better argument would have been to point out that the excuse for the exclusion of a stated benefit would be like an airline excluding lounge access because the lounge is run by a 3rd party. It has nothing to do with ‘afford’.
Thanks for the shout out. I’m glad they reversed course.
It will be interesting to see if the hotel even survives as a St. Regis. Chicago is a very competitive market and, as an example, the Waldorf Astoria, which used to be very nice, is now uninspired, understaffed, outdated, and very lacking in any character or service. It’s like they just gave up even trying. The issue is that at the same rates the Park Hyatt recently did a fantastic renovation and the rooms are beautiful (especially the suites). And for often just $50 or so more The Pen is one of the best hotels in North America (so good I often sacrifice points to stay there) . I guess they figure they have enough Bonvoy loyalists on the luxury scale to sustain it. Not if they treat them like that, lol.
What other elite benefits will this property attempt to ignore, I wonder?
Looking at some of the photos of the hotel, it doesn’t even look like a St Regis. It looks more in line with say a JW Marriott or a Westin.
Plenty of Hyatts cheat. I had three Hyatt Regency properties last year, 2022, tell me that tip and tax was not included in the Globalist breakfast benefit. Another, a fourth property, didn’t have an open breakfast restaurant besides a coffee stand.
Unlike Marriott, there’s no built-in compensation in Hyatt’s terms for a non-compliant benefit. Marriott at least offers $100 cash. The problem with Marriott is two-fold.
First, there are two breakfast benefits.
One Marriott breakfast benefit is at certain legacy Marriott branded properties that don’t have a resort designation. If those properties don’t have an open lounge, they are required to provide a guest with a choice of 750 points per day or a continental breakfast in the restaurant at North American properties. In Europe and elsewhere, it’s a full restaurant breakfast. That is defined in the Marriott terms under the lounge access benefit. The second Marriott breakfast benefit is at certain legacy Starwood branded properties that also don’t carry a resort designation. This includes the St. Regis Chicago. At those properties, an eligible guest at check-in is entitled to choose between 1,000 points, an amenity, or breakfast in the restaurant. This is defined in the Marriott terms under the elite welcome gift benefit.
The second component is the lack of a breakfast definition. Marriott defines breakfast as a continental breakfast for the lounge benefit and breakfast in the restaurant for the elite welcome gift. But neither breakfast is defined, unlike Hyatt, which specifies a single entree or main course plus coffee, tip, tax, etc.
This allows some Marriott properties to claim a piece of toast and orange juice without coffee or a $15 credit that doesn’t cover anything on the menu is a compliant breakfast benefit.
Marriott could solve this by adopting the Hyatt and IHG breakfast definition: buffet or a single main course item plus coffee, juice, water, tip and tax.
The St. Regis was shamed into giving elites free breakfast. Maybe there is hope we can shame Matthew into become an ally.
This is all Ron DeSantis’ fault.
i always bring Charmin, it feels better. Hotel towels are scratchy, only Prince Charles organic cotton for me.
I also sleep in my own cotton filled pillow – I don’t like polyester. Let me not mention the chemicals in hotel soap. I only bring my own – from Trader Joes!
You should see my hotel goodie bag I bring for every stay!
I thought I was only person who traveled with charmin lol!!!
Now if Marriott can fix the ones on their exempt list:
The following properties in the United States do not provide free continental breakfast in the hotel restaurant in the event the Lounge is closed but do offer 1,000 Points in lieu of breakfast. These properties include:
• The Algonquin Hotel Times Square, Autograph Collection
• Boston Marriott Copley Place
• Boston Marriott Long Wharf
• Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile
• JW Marriott Essex House New York City
• JW Marriott New Orleans
• JW Marriott San Francisco Union Square
• JW Marriott Washington, DC
• The Lexington Hotel, Autograph Collection
• Monterey Marriott
• New York Marriott Marquis®
• Philadelphia Marriott Downtown
• Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel
• Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel
• Renaissance Los Angeles Airport Hotel
• Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel
• Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel
• Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel
• Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina
” These properties include” means the list is not exhaustive and can include other unnamed or undisclosed properties. Nobody has ever explained why certain hotels are excluded. I assume because they are large hotels and have too many elites for a restaurant or they don’t have an open restaurant on weekends during quiet periods. For example, the JW Marriott Essex House is on the list. In reality, their lounge is open 365 days a year. Before covid, they were getting 70-plus platinums and higher every single night.
@Matthew, I spoke with the GM of the St. Regis in Chicago about the breakfast denial, when I was denied and he said that the owners of the restaurant would not offer a preferential rate for breakfast and as such the owners (of the hotel) decided not offer the breakfast benefit and were working with Marriott to have an exception made for the hotel, like they have made for other hotels.
So while there maybe a reprieve until Marriott corporate give the hotel an exemption, it won’t last long, the hotel was adamant that they were not going to offer breakfast.
Checks with what the GM of another property told me:
“The issue is that their benefits are still based on Marriott owned hotels. Franchise mostly have their F&B outsourced to a third party and the the complimentary breakfast for elite guests is charged at full price back to hotel which becomes very costly… that’s why some hotels try to offer points rather than breakfast… from a guest perspective I totally understand it!!!!”
If they’d really like us to take points instead of breakfast offer enough points to make it worthwhile for us.
Otherwise too bad about it being too costly for the hotel, not my problem.
Yeah, the 1,000 points elite welcome gift or 750 points in lieu of an open lounge haven’t kept up with inflation and Marriott’s points devaluation. Same for the $10 F&B credit at Courtyard properties. $10 is a joke, especially with a strong British pound.
That’s not an excuse,
If the restaurant won’t offer a preferential rate, then pay the full rate. This should of been hashed out before the hotel and restaurant even opened. It should be a requirement that the restaurant must agree to the elite breakfast benefit or no contract will be offered.
“One last note. Ben mocked some of his readers for arguing that guests who could afford an $800/night hotel room can also afford to pay for breakfast. I must do so as well. What a stupid lack of logic. So let me get this straight…guests should also bring their own toilet paper, towels, pillows, coffee, and soap because they can afford it, right?
No. Breakfast is an important benefit that recognizes all the nights it takes to be an elite member of Marriott Bonvoy. It is not a benefit to be disregarded for spurious reasons, as if we are all stupid. This hotel should be ashamed of itself for nickel and diming in the first place.”
I’ve mocked many a traveler for basing decisions on free but crappy hotel breakfast, but the real issue to me is this. If a hotel owner is going to enjoy the marketing benefits of being associated with a large chain and its elite program, then said owner should be obligated to follow the policies of the chain they signed on to. You have way too many hotel owners today that are trying to have their cake and eat it too – take the benefits of being associated with a Marriott, while avoiding paying the costs associated with those benefits. That has to stop.
At Sheraton Intourist Baku, which has recently been upgraded from an Autograph property, they don’t have lounge or anything in lieu. This is actually first Sheraton brand hotel I’ve stayed at which doesn’t have a lounge. Btw, it doesn’t have a swimming pool either. I was just flummoxed.
Clearly they didn’t plan this correctly.
They should have worked out the breakfast issue long before this hotel opened. Whether they were going to be on the list of places that doesn’t have to give it, or whether they were going to work something out with the restaurant company, this is simply happening too late.
@Interested Traveler: very interesting point. It boggles my mind that this was not negotiated before the hotel opened…